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By MATT ARMSTRONG
Daily News Staff Writer
The Ketchikan High School Lady Kings basketball team got a measure of payback Friday in Anchorage, with a 44-40 come-from-behind win over the Lathrop Malemutes.
The teams met in the Dimond Lady Lynx Prep Shootout gold tournament. Lathrop swept a two-games series against Kayhi late last month in Ketchikan.
“We’re getting better,” said Kayhi coach Kelly Smith in a Friday evening phone interview following the game. “Lathrop really kind of took it to us at home. We scrapped and clawed and fought, and we got bruises and a big black eye to show for it.”
Kayhi sophomore Ashley Huffine was the Lady Kings player who suffered the black eye.
“Ashley just took an elbow — none of us really saw it — (and) she kept playing,” Smith said. “She has a big, swollen shiner. Looks tough.”
Friday’s game got off to a slow start, with only two shots falling — both for Lathrop, putting the Malemutes up 4-0 — in the first half of the first quarter.
Kayhi scored five unanswered points in less than a minute — with a 3-pointer from senior AJ Dela Cruz — to go up 5-4, Lathrop regained the lead with two free throws, Kayhi junior Brittany Slick hit a 3-pointer with 1:46 to go in the first quarter, and Lathrop tied things up at 8-8 on a two-pointer with less than 5 seconds to go in the opening quarter.
A Lathrop free throw put the Malemutes up by one point almost two minutes into the second quarter, but five points from Slick keyed a 7-0 Kayhi run that put the Lady Kings up 15-9. The Malemutes answered with their own 6-0 run to tie the game a 15-15 with less than 30 seconds to go in the first half. A Kayhi basket put the Lady Kings up by two with 13 seconds left in the first half, but a buzzer-beating 3-pointer by Lathrop’s Ella Roberts gave the Malemutes an 18-17 lead at the half.
Kayhi trailed for the entire third quarter — with Lathrop outscoring the Lady Kings 11-7 during the quarter — and went into the fourth quarter down by five points, 29-24.
A two-point shot by Lathrop less than 20 seconds into the fourth quarter increased the Malemutes’ lead to 31-24. A two-pointer and free throw from Dela Cruz helped Kayhi narrow the gap, but a basket by Lathrop with 7:07 left in the game gave the Malemutes a 33-27 lead.
That lead, however, would be Lathrop’s last lead of the game.
Points from Slick, Dela Cruz and senior Kyra Welker led a 10-0 Kayhi run to put the Lady Kings up 37-33 with 4:54 left in the game. A 3-pointer by Lathrop narrowed the gap to one point with 3:46 to go, but Kayhi put some distance between the teams with a 5-0 run to go up 42-36 with less than 45 seconds to go.
Lathrop, after a 4-0 run, pulled to within two points with less than 10 seconds in the game, but Slick hit two free throws to give Kayhi the 44-40 win.
The Lady Kings were able to play “straight, half-court defense” this time around against Lathrop, according to Smith.
“We just got after it with half-court defense,” Smith said. “We’re so much shorter than them, (but) our short girls played defensively in the post. We really worked.”
The Lady Kings will play the Juneau-Douglas Crimson Bears at 10 a.m. Saturday in what could be a preview for when the Crimson Bears travel to Ketchikan for games next weekend.
“Possibly playing Juneau six times now the rest of the way, we’re going to go out and get better defensively (and) get more comfortable, offensively, with what we do,” Smith said. “This isn’t a game you go and try to make a lot of little adjustments to. We want to win, we want to battle, but winning this game isn’t going to define our season, so we’re not going to go throw a lot of stuff at them. We’re going to play straight-up, hard basketball against them.”
Smith added that he wasn’t concerned with the relatively short time between the end of Friday’s game and Saturday’s tip off.
“They’re kids. They’re excited to play,” Smith said.
Kayhi: AJ Dela Cruz 14, Brittany Slick 13, Ashley Huffine 6, Sarah McClennan 6, Kyra Welker 3, Hannah Maxwell 2.
Lathrop: Tyra Do 12, Makenzie Warner 10, Cheyenne Dibert 8, Olivia Kraska 4, Tatyana Jordan 3, Ella Roberts 3.